What to Do When You’re Running Out of Patience

Here are suggestions for going beyond a passive view of patience to making it the crucial skill it is—one that you actively build into your daily life.

Sylverarts/Dollar Photo Club

Since first published in the poem “Piers Plowman” (attributed to William Langland) in the 14th century, we’ve all had it drilled into us since childhood that “patience is a virtue.” What is striking to me about patience is that we’ve at all needed to be “told” of its importance. It’s as though we, especially in modern, Western society, need to be convinced—we need proof that patience figures large in our lives. Patience somehow has accrued a reputation of a “nicety” among positive attributes—a sense of it being desirable, but not crucial to “success” in our Western Times-Square-meets-Wall-Street world. Patience is great, but other qualities that drive it home, seal the deal and score points are preferred.

In a time of trumping rivals and compulsively keeping up with the joneses, to be patient suggests coming in second, or perhaps dead last. Patience is not overt—it does not put a person on display. There’s little in terms of a Tony Robbins-styled inner “power” to it. In a word, patience can seem “weak.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines patient as “able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people.” There isn’t…